Romania have a long tradition on the competitive stage, having never failed to qualify for a World Championship and missing only one EHF EURO, in 2006. The team are always aiming to rank among the best, but have not had the same success at EHF EUROs as at World Championships. Romania’s EHF EURO medal record is one bronze, from 2010, and the team are motivated to change this and make it to the final stages in France.
To reach the EHF EURO 2018, Romania topped their qualification group ahead of Olympic gold medallists Russia – which is an achievement even though Russia are undergoing a transition period, like Romania. Romania are focused on developing their numerous young and talented players towards the level of the team’s leader, Cristina Neagu.
Three-time World Handball Player of the Year Neagu is the core of the Romania team, playing alongside talents like right back Melinda Geiger and the exceptional goalkeepers Denisa Dedu and Yuliya Dumanska. For some time, the question has been which coach could find the perfect recipe for Romania, and with four-time Champions League winner Ambros Martin now at the helm, it seems only a matter of time before this team rises to the top.
The experience and shooting prowess of Cristina Neagu is Romania’s biggest advantage and weapon. The left back is the only female to have won the IHF World Handball Player of the Year award three times, and the only person to win it in consecutive years (2010, 2015, 2016). Neagu was also named EHF Player of the Year in 2017 and the Champions League All-star left back for the last four seasons. She won the Champions League with Buducnost in 2015.
With the national team, Neagu has been named in three EHF EURO All-star Teams (2010, 2014 and 2016) and was named All-star left back and MVP of the World Championship 2015. She was the top scorer in two Champions League seasons – 2014/15 and 2017/18 – and at the World Championship 2015. She is also currently third on the all-time top scorer list at EHF EURO events, and looks set to reach number one in France.
22-year-old goalkeeper Yuliya Dumanska has already made a name for herself on the international stage, playing a critical part as her former club SCM Craiova won the EHF Cup in 2017/18. Her performances during the season were enough to earn her the award for best goalkeeper in the Romanian league.
For the 2018/19 season, Dumanska transferred to SCM Ramnicu Valcea and immediately helped her new club claim the Supercup against powerhouse CSM Bucuresti.
After winning a bronze medal at the Junior World Championship 2016, Dumanska made her debut for the senior squad in 2016. She was brought in to play one game at the EHF EURO 2016, facing two penalty shots and saving both. Following the national team retirement of long-time number one keeper, Paula Ungureanu, Dumanska is now working with Denisa Dedu developing what is a very promising partnership for the Romania goal.
The coach: Ambros Martin
In 2016, Ambros Martin looked to extend his coaching repertoire outside the EHF Champions League, adding the role of Romania coach to his responsibilities with Györi Audi ETO KC. The Spanish coach won the Champions League four times with the Hungarian club and was voted as the best coach in the competition four seasons running, from 2014/15 to 2017/18.
Martin also won the Champions League as a player, with San Antonio in 2001. He brings extensive experience to the Romania bench, and has led the team in two campaigns so far: ranking fifth at the EHF EURO 2016 then 10th at the World Championship 2017.
In the summer of 2018, after leading Györ to become the first club to defend a Champions League title won under the FINAL4 format, Martin moved to Russia to coach Rostov-Don.
Past Performance at EHF EURO Events
|2008||FYR Macedonia||5th place|